Search the GHTC website

In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.

February 13, 2023 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

Interested in more global health innovation news? Every week GHTC scours media reports worldwide to deliver essential global health R&D news and content to your inbox. Sign up now to receive our weekly R&D News Roundup email.

A recent study found that an inexpensive, widely available antibiotic could sharply reduce the number of pregnant individuals in low- and middle-income countries who develop sepsis in childbirth, which is among the three leading causes of maternal deaths globally. The study, conducted in seven countries mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, showed that a single dose of the drug azithromycin during labor cut the risk of the mother developing sepsis by around 35 percent. Azithromycin is a generic drug, it has a long half-life, and it does not require refrigeration, making it an inexpensive and easy-to-deliver tool that could be widely adopted even in low-resource settings.

Following the recent discovery of an outbreak of H5N1 on a Spanish mink farm, scientists have identified that the strain of the virus behind the outbreak contains a mutation that could make the virus more adaptable to mammals. While experts have stressed that there is no need panic, the outbreak is a reminder of the importance of disease surveillance and preparedness measures, especially as a new variant of H5N1 has spread among bird populations and spilled over into humans in recent years. Scientists have not detected any transmission of this latest strain among humans, although the mutation could increase the potential risk.

Fungal pathogens are a growing threat to global public health, according to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), which published a list of priority fungal pathogens last year. Resistance is exacerbating the threat. For example, Candida auris, Aspergillus fumigatus, and Cryptococcus neoformans, which WHO ranks among the four highest priority threats, have all shown resistance to current tools. There are also no vaccines for the top four critical infections identified. As aging populations and the climate crisis contribute to growing antimicrobial resistance, there is a strong need for improving surveillance capacity and investing in developing diagnostics, medicines, and other interventions for fungal infections, which currently account for less than 1.5 percent of all infectious disease research spending, according to WHO.

About the author

Hannah Sachs-WetstoneGHTC

Hannah supports advocacy and communications activities and member coordination for GHTC. Her role includes developing and disseminating digital communications, tracking member and policy news, engaging coalition members, and organizing meetings and events.Prior to joining GHTC, more about this author